Tag Archives: Imperial Theatre

Talking to Strangers for Fun and Profit…

A note to those who may misunderstand my title, and think I work in radio (like my ex-husband and many of our friends)…unfortunately, radio is fun, but no longer very profitable (and some veterans may disagree on the “fun” part, too)!  I might have ended up doing radio news (I took Broadcast Journalism in college), but I chose not to enter that field.  The “talking to strangers” refers to face-to-face interaction with people I come into contact with in my daily life.

Maybe it’s because of my journalism training that I’ve always enjoyed chatting with people…or, it could be sheer nosiness!  Either way, it is an interesting way to pass the time, and I’ve learned a lot from some of my random interactions.  This practice horrifies my children, however…I can barely get them to acknowledge their school friends with more than a shy smile or a little wave!  When I took Hope to the after-hours clinic the other night, I was talking to a young father whose infant daughter was ill.  I tried to distract the baby from her fussiness by talking to her, and helped the man get her into the carseat.  After they left, Hope said, “Why do you have to talk to strangers?  You’re embarrassing me!”  When we got home, she informed Anna that I was “doing it again.” 

Yesterday, a good-looking guy in his mid-40’s came into the bookstore…tall and well-built, with prematurely grey hair (oops…I just drooled a little on my keyboard!).  As per my habit, I asked if it was his first visit (because I surely would have remembered if he’d been in before!)…he replied that it was, and offered that he was in town from Los Angeles.  We don’t get many people from California in Saint John, New Brunswick, except The Jolie, and the occasional cruise ship passenger, so my next question was “How did you end up here?” 

Tall Guy answered, “I’m a musician…we’ve got a gig here tonight.”

“Oh, which band are you in?” I asked.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when he replied, “The Goo Goo Dolls. ”  We’ve had celebrities in the store before: comedian Ron James, Vinyl Café host Stuart MacLean, and the Canadian rock band Alexisonfire, but to have somebody from an internationally-known rock group find our little store is pretty amazing (he found us on Google)!

I quickly picked myself up off the floor and responded that I had almost bought tickets for their show for Jim for Christmas, but he preferred to see the Classic Albums Live tribute to The Who that we went to last month.  Casually, Tall Guy said, “I can probably get you in.”

“Seriously?” I asked eagerly.  Those tickets were going for $49.50 each before service charges!

“Really!” he answered.  “Give him a call and see if he wants to go.”  So I did!  Jim was excited too!

Tall Guy spent a fair amount of time looking at our books, while I chewed his ear off.  I asked what he played…he responded modestly that he was “just the drummer.”  He told me about their shows in Newfoundland, and mentioned that his wife back in L.A. wasn’t very happy about him being gone on Valentine’s Day.  He would be back home in a couple of weeks though, and then off for a month.

My euphoria was disturbed when Tall Guy’s phone rang with a text message…he had to go back to the hotel and make an important phone call he’d forgotten about.  I gave him my card, and he promised to leave some tickets in my name at the door.  I got Tall Guy to sign our guest book, and took his money for the book he bought (World War I history)…he didn’t even make it into the room with the art, music, and literature…I’m hoping he might order more books from our website!

Our celebrity's signature...

After he was gone, I Googled Mike, because I couldn’t read his last name (Malinin)…in the course of my stalking research, I also found out that Mike was a marathon runner.  How cool is that?  A drummer for a rock band and a runner!

Goo Goo Dolls watch as guy from Virgin Records cuts a ribbon...Mike is the hunk on the left...(photo from justjared.buzznet.com)

*****

Showtime was 7:30 p.m.  Despite our best efforts, Jim and I didn’t make it to the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre until 7:15.  The line for General Admission snaked out into the neighbouring mall.  Most of the people waiting were half our ages.  Luckily, the queue moved quickly, and soon we saw a special table at the door where a woman had a box full of envelopes.  I left Jim to hold our place and hurried over to her.  “I’m Wendy M.,” I said.  “Mike the drummer left me a couple of tickets.”  The woman shuffled through a pile of white envelopes and pulled one out with my name on it.  She opened it, and discovered two triangular Goo Goo Dolls sticker passes with “2/14” and “A.S.” written on them in permanent marker.  I was excited, because I surmised that “A.S.” stood for “After Show.”  The woman told us to just go on in and take our seats…we did, after carefully applying the stickers to our chests (we had a little trouble freeing them from the backing paper…I think they were “boomerproof” stickers). 

Our passes...

The opening band, Crash Parallel, was a group of young Canadian guys based in Toronto.  They could sing; they could play; and they were suitably enthusiastic.  I particularly enjoyed their cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (Genesis was one of the first bands I ever saw live, back in 1981).  During the intermission, we chatted with two other couples from our generation who were seated near us (one fellow worked in Emergency at the hospital, and has put multiple casts/splints on my girls!).  Yes, children…I was talking to strangers again!

Jim took this shot with his phone during the show...despite my demonic grin, I did not just consume a small child...

Finally, the Goo Goo Dolls took the stage.  Most of their material was new to me…in their heyday in the late-90’s, I had already stopped listening to mainstream radio.  The youngsters at the show felt the need to stand in front of the stage, so we spent the rest of the time on our feet (which was tough on my almost 50-year-old body!).  My favourite Goo Goo Dolls song is Iris:

After the show, we filed out into the lobby…we walked around and asked several people whether they knew what the “A.S.” meant on our passes.  No one did (not even the burly security guy with the headset), and it didn’t appear that there was an “after show.”

We went home…I’ve decided that “A.S.” stands for “Amiable Stranger.”  Thanks, Mike, for the tickets!  Sometimes it pays to talk to strangers!

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I’m a Little Bit ADD, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll (With Apologies to the Osmonds)…

Fasten your seatbelts, readers…it’s going to be a bumpy ride…I’ll be going through topics faster than my kids can make ice cream disappear.  You’ll laugh; you’ll groan; you’ll salivate; you’ll wish you were having dinner at my house!

1.  Best. Candy. Ever.  Utah didn’t just give us the Osmond family…they also have the Sweet Candy Company which makes the best candy ever: Raspberry Sticks, which are described on the package as “raspberry jelly centers dipped in luscious milk chocolate” (this is NOT a lie!).  I discovered these bits of deliciousness at our local Co-Op when they were marked down after Christmas last week…I bought three boxes…unfortunately, they were gone when I went back for more last night!

Sweet's Raspberry Sticks...

2. Did You Miss a Post?  It seems that my blog host may have been having issues last week…just wondering if everyone who subscribes got notice of my Friday post on the Bay of Fundy…it was a “rerun” from the early days.  I wasn’t the only one having problems: my friend Renée at Life in the Boomer Lane moved her blog to a different host, and her subscribers aren’t getting their notifications (if you’re a fan of Renée’s, the link in my “She Said” blogroll still works!).  Poor Todd at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk put up a post on Thursday that got far fewer comments than usual…he thought the post was bad, but I tried to access it twice, and got the message “Post Not Found” both times!  He ended up taking it down.

3. Cooking Up a Storm.  Jim cooked twice last week, making a turkey dinner with dressing, mashed pototoes, and vegetables last Sunday (and Grammie Clark’s cheesecake for dessert!), and a lovely seafood chowder on Wednesday (with homemade biscuits!).  This past Sunday, I used frozen tomatoes from our garden to make some more pizza sauce (took several hours to cook them down), and made a deep dish pizza (which I forgot to photograph before people dove into it!).  For dessert, we had sour cream chocolate cake.

Homemade Pizza Sauce...I wish you had "Smellovision"...yum!

Leftover Pizza...I cooked the dough a little too long, but it tasted good!

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake...sinfully delicious!

4. Mr. James to the Rescue (Again).  When I came downstairs Sunday morning, Dad informed me that Jake was “having trouble” again.  He’d obviously gotten into something he shouldn’t have, and was pooping everywhere (Jake, not my dad!).  Consequently, the fuzzy white hair on his rear end wasn’t so white any more (still Jake).  After giving the dog a bath, I called our resident hairdresser and dog groomer, Jim (aka “Mr. James”) downstairs to do a quick trim on our schoodle’s bum.  I love that man!  We decided it would be best to sterilize the scissors with a little bleach before putting them in the dishwasher…

5. Valentine’s Day.  I’m finally taking down the Christmas books display at the bookstore and replacing it with a Valentine’s Day-themed selection.  Books with the word “love” in the title will be 10% off for the next little while…

Lover's Secrets...10% off...any takers?

6. Crossing Guards With Magical Powers.  As Jim and I were watching our usual Wednesday night comedies on ABC, a commercial that featured a crossing guard caught my cynical eye: she stops the kids in the middle of traffic to take a decongestant (?!!).  Jim helpfully pointed out that she had also stopped the traffic: “She’s an omnipotent crossing guard!” he declared.  I thought The Omnipotent Crossing Guard would make a great blog title.

7. Off the Map.  Speaking of ABC, I’m loving the new drama by the creators of Grey’s Anatomy, Off The Map.  It’s got interesting plotlines and characterization, cool guest stars (Michael McKean and Cheech Marin, so far), and a leading man from New Zealand named Martin Henderson, whose pecs are as sexy as his accent (don’t worry, guys…there are beautiful women on it too)!

Martin Henderson as Dr. Ben Keeton...hot in the jungle...

8. Just Call Me ‘Ms. Technical’.  Yesterday, Dad’s monitor started flickering for no apparent reason.  I got on the phone with Jim (the computer tech), who advised me to try my monitor to see if if would work.  After unhooking Dad’s heavy old-style monitor and hauling it down off the desk out of the way, I carried my slim-line monitor over from my office across the hall, only to find that it didn’t have the right connector to plug into Dad’s computer.  I carried my monitor back, and hooked it back up again.  I only swore a little bit.  Then I went into the back room and pulled out the old (massive) monitor to try it.  I connected it to Dad’s computer (right connection, but no picture…hurrah!).  Still flickering though, from what I could see.  Unhooking it again, I was getting ready to put it away when Dad insisted on carrying it for me (have you ever been offered help when you didn’t really want it?…sigh).  After reconnecting the regular monitor, the problem persisted, and I did a Google search, which suggested that if it wasn’t the monitor, it was likely the video card.   I called Jim again, who said he would look at it in the morning.  After we got home, I floated my “video card theory” for Jim, and was shot down.  Fast forward to this morning:  I turned on Dad’s computer and the monitor was fine.  I forgot the standard advice offered every week by the technicians on The IT Crowd: “Have you tried turning it on and off?” 

9. I’m the Last One Picked for Wii Games Too.  The kids conned me into playing Wii with them the other night.  I totally suck at baseball and tennis…at least I started to get the hang of bowling halfway through!  Damn that hand-eye coordination…I wonder if they have word games for Wii?

10. Classic Albums Live: The Who

Where?  The Imperial Theatre. 

When?  Saturday night. 

What?  An amazing group of musicians recreating the “Who’s Next?” album. 

Why?  I bought Jim tickets for Christmas, and we desperately needed a Date Night!

How?  Very skillfully!  This was our second Classic Albums Live show (we saw the Supertramp: Crime of the Century show last year and it was equally great!).  The band did an excellent job recreating the album note-for-note, and this folkie girl was instantly transported back 35 years to her “headbanger period” (age 15-16).  All the musicians and singers were very talented, and the drummer was awesome! 

If you have a chance to see a Classic Albums Live show, I’d heartily recommend it!

This concludes your tour through my rather addled Tuesday brain…I hope that the transitions didn’t cause any whiplash!

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Très Jolie?…Non…

I will start this post with a disclaimer borrowed from Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory: “I am not insane!  My mother had me tested” (it’s been a while, though). 

Further disclaimer: any resemblance to actual people (except Jim and I and our kids) is completely coincidental…this piece is strictly entertainment (historical details are accurate).  If it makes you want to come and visit Saint John, it’s a bonus!

It’s all my friend, Omawarisan‘s, fault.  A few months ago, I stumbled innocently upon Oma’s blog after he was Freshly Pressed for the umpteenth time…Oma has his own nutty delightfully-skewed perspective on ordinary aspects of everyday life…things most of us never take the time to think about!  When I found out about his hare-brained brilliant plan to send an action figure of Angelina Jolie to bloggers around the world, I signed up right away to be a stop on “The Jolie”‘s Canadian Tour.  That’s how this box arrived in my mailbox last Friday:

Bad things come in small packages...

The Jolie is the “famous visitor” I referred to in this post last week.

I could hear The Jolie yelling as we pulled up to the community mailbox where Jim and I pick up our mail…it had been a couple of days since we’d checked it because of a snowstorm.  I decided to leave her in the box until she calmed down a little…I could see that Oma had spared no expense in sending The Jolie to Canada!

I prepared a pork stir-fry for the family…I had to turn on the exhaust fan to drown out the swearing coming from the box on the counter!  After supper, I released our guest.  I checked the box in vain for luggage…The Jolie didn’t even have a fanny-pack!  What kind of tourist comes to Saint John, New Brunswick without one of those?

Fanny pack...essential equipment for all Saint John tourists...

The Jolie drowned her sorrows in a cup of King Cole tea (made in Sussex, New Brunswick…it recently began using paper for teabags after its supply of gauze dried up…I swear I’m not making this up!) as she regaled us with the story of her trip.  Apparently, she was awakened to the sound of the packing tape on her box being cut by an eager young Canada Customs officer looking for contraband.  “He was no Brad Pitt!” The Jolie snorted.  “He just about ruined my boots with that box cutter!  I would have sued his ass!”  She paused to regain her composure before continuing.  “Then he wanted to look in my backpack!  I’ve got $1000 worth of the finest cosmetics money can buy in there…do you think I wanted his filthy paws rummaging through my personal things?  I told him to pick on someone his own size!”  I assumed that there had been no further incident, since The Jolie had been delivered without “paperwork” or phone calls from the federal government.

I showed The Jolie to her room to rest from her ordeal.  She wasted no time in soliciting sympathy from whoever she could find…this is how I found her a half hour later when I came to make sure she had everything she needed:

The Jolie in a compromising position with some green guy...he looks strangely familiar...

I sternly suggested The Jolie “get some sleep”, because we had a big day of touring ahead of us on Saturday.

The Jolie stumbled downstairs just in time for lunch the next day…I made her my usual Saturday brunch of “Toad in the Hole” (eggs fried in the middle of a bagel cut in half).  She ate all of hers and half of mine (in between mouthfuls, she whined about the trains she heard in the middle of the night, and “that mutt” which was scratching on her bedroom door)!  Jake had been remarkably restrained…he hadn’t tried to eat her even once!

Jim loaded his Nikon D90 into his camera bag, and he and the girls and I got into the Toyota Corolla to go to town.  Attempting to divert attention from her transgression the night before, The Jolie commented that she’d never ridden in an “economy car” before.  She wondered if our “regular driver” was on vacation.  She balked at putting on her seatbelt, but we told her the car wouldn’t move until she had it on.

Our first stop was guaranteed to remind The Jolie of home: the Saint John sign at Fort Howe…everybody refers to Saint John as “Hollywood North” (not really…that’s Vancouver!).

Hollywood North...except for the snow...

The next destination was where every tourist who ever visited Saint John wants to go: the Reversing Falls.  The Jolie posed with The Loyalist Man, who used to be the unofficial Saint John mascot before some marketing genius from Toronto “rebranded” our city:

Loyalist Man and The Jolie...

The Jolie complained bitterly when she saw the actual “Falls”, which are technically just rapids…they’re nothing like “backwards Niagara Falls”!  “That’s it?” she asked.  I hope she’s not planning to stop in Moncton while she’s here: The Tidal Bore will probably live up to its name…

The Reversing Falls with the Reversing Falls Bridge...

Then it was on to Carleton Martello Tower, which was built on the West Side during the War of 1812 to guard the land approaches to the city from the pesky Americans.  Unfortunately, it was closed for the winter…The Jolie was keen to check out the gun turrets!  She had to be content to pose outside, though.

The Jolie pretending to throw a grenade at Carleton Martello Tower...there used to be cannons sticking out those holes...

 We headed uptown to show The Jolie our premiere performing arts facility, the Imperial Theatre:

The Jolie in front of the Imperial Theatre...

The original Imperial began life as a vaudeville theatre back in 1913, became a movie theatre in the late 1920’s, and then a Pentecostal church in the 1950’s.  In 1982, the theatre was purchased by a dedicated group of volunteers who restored it to its former theatrical status over a 12-year period.  It was formally reopened on May 24, 1994.  The 900-seat venue has hosted musicians and theatrical performances from around the world over the past 16 years, and countless performers have declared it their “favourite place to play in Canada.”

*Special thank you to Jim, who lay down on the sidewalk on his stomach to get the last shot, and to the people walking by, who watched what we were doing, but didn’t call “the men in the white coats.”

More highlights of The Jolie’s tour coming up…

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A Wilde and Snowy Weekend…

I apologize for the four-day gap between posts…even though it was not a holiday weekend here in Canada, it was a busy time!

1. Sinking to New Depths.  On Wednesday afternoon, Jim looked out the window and saw a septic tank cleaning truck stuck up to its axles in the mud in our front field…very bad idea on the part of our landlord’s brother, who owns the lots next to our house and is trying to sell them!  Needless to say, no sewage was sucked that day (although I imagine the truck driver was probably throwing the S-word around pretty freely)!

2. Lost Subscriber.  I think it was sometime on Thursday that I discovered that someone had cancelled his subscription to my blog…being obsessed with stats as I am, I was upset and hurt.  Had I said something to offend him?  Was my blog quality slipping?  After second guessing his motives for a few minutes  hours days, I decided to get over it…he “just wasn’t that into me.” 

3. Parent-Teacher Conference.  While my American friends and family were eating turkey on Thursday, I was on the Stairmaster meeting with Hope’s teachers at Quispamsis Middle School.  I met with six of her teachers in five different classrooms on two different floors.  Suffice to say, whoever made up our schedule must have known I need to lose a few pounds…the first meeting was on the second floor, second meeting on the first floor…you get the gist of where this is going!  I was up and down more than the Canadian dollar!  All of Hope’s teachers were very nice, and told me what a pleasure she was to have in their classes (I’m pretty sure they were actually talking about my kid).  I was relieved because I had been dreading the encounter with some of them.  I made sure Hope was thoroughly embarrassed by giving a lot of them my bookstore business card.  I also ran into one of Kaylee’s former high school teachers (he has a child attending QMS).  To Hope’s horror, I whipped out the photo album with Elise’s pictures to show him what Kaylee’s daughter looked like!

4. Alice’s Adventures.  One of the things that came up at the Parent-Teacher conference is that Hope needs to spend more time reading.  When we got home, I took down our copy of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and asked Hope if she wanted me to read it to her.  She was unsure at first, but trudged upstairs with me anyway.  That book is quite enjoyable to read aloud, and Hope laughed in all the right places (I decided that the Mouse would have a Manchester accent).  We read two chapters Thursday night, and two more last night.

5.  Back to Work Friday.  The kids had the day off Friday because of Parent-Teacher conferences, but it was Jim’s first day back to work after his surgery.  He arranged with his boss to leave a couple of hours early in the afternoon…wanted to ease into the routine.  Hope came to town with me to hang out with her friend, Gabrielle, and go shopping.  Here’s what Hope bought for Jake at the Dollar Store:

Hope and Jake (photo by Jim)...this will be Hope's Christmas card this year...

6. The Importance of Being Earnest.  Jim and I went to see an ultra-modern version of Oscar Wilde’s excellent satire on Friday evening at the Imperial Theatre (there were references to Facebook and e-mail, and characters were checking their PDA’s).  The Saint John Theatre Company did a bang-up job as usual, delivering Wilde’s lines with the biting sarcasm we’ve come to expect from Oscar.  My favourite is Lady Bracknell’s response when Jack declares that he’s an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

7. Santa and Snow Come to Town.  Saturday morning was bright and sunny when we woke up…surely the weatherman was mistaken about snow later in the day…Anna had to be on the West Side at noon for the Lancaster Santa Claus Parade.  After an emergency stop at the mall for black sweatpants, she arrived just in time to make it into the team photos being taken before the parade.  By then, it was snowing like crazy!  We watched the parade from the car (Hope got out…she collected the candy given out during the parade, but didn’t share with us!).

Anna...self-portrait after the parade...

After a nap for Jim, and a quick supper, we were back on the road enroute to the Kennebecassis Valley Santa Claus Parade, which Hope’s cheerleading team was marching in.  The coach had told the girls to be there by 5:30…we were a little late due to a stop at Co-Op for a can of tomato paste.  The parade was forming at the high school, and by the time we got near it, the road was blocked off.  Traffic was crazy!  Jim drove us to his parents’ house, and we all walked to the high school from there (about a mile, I think).  Hope got there just in time to join up with her team.  Anna and I watched the parade, while Jim followed Hope’s team in the parade, snapping photos like a paparazzi.

Hope and her cheerleading team in the parade...photo by Jim

After the parade, Anna and I met Jim back at Jim’s parents’ house…Jim’s mom made Anna hot chocolate, and some tea for me.  I was exhausted, but not as tired as Hope, who had walked another half an hour longer than I had!  She went to bed as soon as we got home!

8. Little Wendy Homemaker.  Sunday morning, I got up early…in addition to four loads of laundry, I had plans to make homemade spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from our garden.  Kaylee, Scott and Elise were coming over for supper.  Jim suggested I make chocolate macaroons for dessert…we call them “doodoo drops” at our house:

"DooDoo Drops"

 

I took precautions and put up the baby gate in front of the dining room door, to prevent a repeat of the unfortunate molasses brown bread incident.

9.  Ridiculous Gifts.  In between loads of laundry and cooking, I had a little time to peruse some of the many catalogues which have made their way into my mailbox.  Here are a couple of examples of what people are supposedly plunking down their credit cards for: 

Cast Iron Giraffe Toilet Paper Holder - $27.95...what kind of self-respecting jungle animal wears Charmin as an accessory? I could make him a scarf...

The Hot Seat Swivel Stool...$395...I can't have one of these because they only deliver to the continental U.S....darn!

10. That’s What She Said.  When Kaylee and Scott arrived (early, as is their custom), Elise happened to find the TV remote, and turn it on.  The big-screen TV also acts as Jim’s computer monitor, and he had been looking at his photos onscreen.  Anna and I took the opportunity to show our guests some shots from our PEI trip this summer.  Jim had several shots of some very tame foxes.  Kaylee looked at one and announced confidently, “That one’s definitely a girl!”  Anna asked, “Are you sure?”  After taking another look, Kaylee said, “Oh…I thought that was a hole…”(the poor girl inherited my eyesight!). 

One of the fox photos...not the one that fooled Kaylee!

We had fun with Elise…it had been a couple of weeks since we’d seen her.  She has added the word “flower” to her vocabulary…she had flowers on her very cute little coat that she got for her birthday.

Kaylee, Elise, Hope, and the fuzzy flower coat at Elise's 1st birthday party...

11. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  After simmering for a little over five hours, the spaghetti sauce was finally the right consistency.  To save a major mess, I decided to serve it with penne rigate instead of spaghetti, since we don’t have a high chair for Elise yet.  She rejected the old dishtowel I tied around her neck as a bib (it was clean, and only had a couple of holes in it!).  I also offered utensils, but she preferred to use both hands to feed the pasta and carrots into her mouth.

12. Nick Needs to Go!  Amazing Race is down to the last four teams…last night, Nick showed himself to be the whining dickhead that he truly is once again (sorry for the potty mouth, but Nick is a waste of skin).  Poor Vicki was struggling to run in the heat with her asthma, and he was telling her to “suck it up”!  She spent the episode throwing up after a food challenge, but didn’t want to quit.  When faced with finding a certain fishing boat in the dark, Nick gave up, and said he was going to go to sleep, leaving Vicki holding the ball again (she is the only one who has any, apparently).  They ended up at the pit stop without completing the task, and now have a six-hour penalty and a speed bump…it was a non-elimination round.  Please, Vicki…stop wasting your time with this buffoon…he keeps saying he’s changed, but he lies!

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